Democrat Mike Thompson helped write the health care bill that the Ways and Means Committee passed in July. He says Californians are hungry for reform.
“In California between 2000 and 2007 insurance premiums increased by 95% - and Price Waterhouse Cooper has projected the next increase is going to be 9%.”
Everyone was waiting to see how firmly the president would advocate for a public option. Thompson was glad to see him push hard for it.
“We need to provide a means by which to push down the ever rising cost of health care premiums.”
The president was harsh in his words to some of his opponents.
“Instead of honest debates we’ve seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise.”
Some Republicans thought that rather than bring Congress together, the President may have deepened the fractures that already existed. Tom McClintock said President Obama didn’t sound like the bipartisan consensus-builder he was elected to be.
“Unfortunately tonight we saw nothing but a partisan community activist.”
He says the President didn’t do his cause any favors by refusing to talk to his opponents.
“He accused his opponents of lying about his plans, where he said he wouldn’t waste time talking to people he disagreed with, that was silly. It certainly wasn’t Reaganesque.”
Other Sacramento area Republicans were irritated by the speech. Dan Lungren says the president didn’t just give a dressing down to Republicans –
“He dressed down my constituents. He basically said to my constituents you’ve been misrepresenting and been involved in partisan misrepresentation for several months I think he said.”
Lungren says maybe it’s the president who’s misrepresenting his own plan.
“There’s a little bit of a distance between what we’ve seen in our bill and what he talked about. He said the bill does not cause people to lose policies. In fact the analysis shows that’s true. He said anyone who suggests that this has federal funding for abortion is misrepresenting – then he’s basically calling out the US Catholic Conference of Bishops.”
The President’s speech may not have changed a lot of minds in the chamber. Most Republicans and about two dozen Democrats have indicated their opposition to the current proposal. But Doris Matsui says she thinks President Obama made the case that Congress can’t just kick the can down the road any longer.
“I look upon this tonight as a catalyst for congress to act. Because it is so important. He made the case that the status quo is not an option.”
Four committees have already passed versions of the bill. The Senate Finance Committee has pledged to follow suit next week.
From Capitol News Connection, I'm Tanya Snyder, Capital Public Radio News.